Cheap, quick and simple vegetarian courgette lasagne


Much quicker than the usual bechamel/white sauce version, this is a good week-night lasagne. Flavour comes from the garlicky, herby tomato sauce and the cheeses; it’s a rich but healthy dinner which is popular with children and a handy fallback for a meat-free night.

To make this more seasonal in the winter months, try leaving out the courgette and instead roasting off slices of squash with a few sage leaves while you’re making the tomato sauce. Layer these on top of the tomato sauce and under the ricotta/Parmesan mixture.

Serves 4

2 medium courgettes
2 cartons chopped tomatoes
250g ricotta
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, diced
About 8 dried lasagne sheets
2 tablespoons grated cheddar
1 tablespoon grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons dried, or a small bunch of fresh herbs: one or as many as you like of oregano, basil, dried Italian herb mix, marjoram, thyme
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or brown sauce

Other things that could be added to the tomato sauce: a big teaspoon of Marmite (trust me); 1/2 teaspoon of veg bouillon (reduce your added salt because Marmite/stock cubes/bouillon are salty); a grated carrot when the garlic goes in; peas, sweetcorn or a big handful of spinach at the end.

1. Preheat the oven to 180C / gas 4.

2. Sweat the onion over a low heat in a medium sized saucepan until it softens without colouring – about 10 minutes. Add the garlic to the onion for the last two minutes, along with the herbs (except fresh basil, which should be added at the end to retain its flavour).

3. Tip in the chopped tomatoes, stir in the cinnamon, salt and pepper, the Worcestershire or brown sauce. Bring to the boil and bubble until the sauce has reduced and is nice and thick – this will take about 15/20 minutes. Taste and adjust the flavours as necessary: add more herbs, seasoning or sauce. You want the sauce to be really flavoursome so the end lasagne isn’t bland.

3. Grate the courgette and mix with the ricotta and Parmesan. Season well with black pepper.

4. Spread a layer of tomato sauce across the bottom of a square or rectangular oven-dish, about 25 x 20cm. Cover with lasagne sheets, snapping them if necessary to fit the dish neatly. Cover with the courgette mixture, then repeat the three layers finishing with the courgette mixture on top.

5. Sprinkle over the cheddar and bake for around 40 minutes until browned and bubbling on top, and the lasagne sheets are cooked – stick a knife in to check.

6. This serves well with a peppery, flavoursome green salad – watercress or rocket work well, or simply add some cress or chives to a basic lettuce.